Monday, 16 February 2009

A Writer's Tale

I had a couple of meetings at companies in or around Soho today - the TV/Film heartland. I love going to Soho, and thanks to a brief work experience stint at Working Title seven years ago (omg was it that long) I know the area quite well. What's cool is that as you walk around you get a certain industry vibe, might even see a couple of people who work in it (I think I saw two actors today!) and even overhear industry related conversations. This is even more likely now as people congregate in front of company buildings having fag breaks!

So as well as the people who actually work in the companies I visited, right through to the lovely receptionists, today I overheard a couple of guys talking about the music that was going over a well known sitcom. Clearly on the technical side of things, these guys were nevertheless creative professionals who cared deeply about things turning out the way that was best for the show (I gather there was a problem of some sorts but not making eavesdropping a habit, I didn't loiter!)

But it occurred to me, in a very non arrogant, look at me the big I am kinda way, that if writers weren't sitting somewhere and coming up with stuff to be made, none of these people would have jobs. Again I want to stress that this is not a post about how great writers are and we should rule everything. That is stupid and pointless. The script is the first stage and only that. Tons and tons of brilliant people then take it on and make it work on screen. But it's worth remembering that the script is indeed the first stage. Without that the industry has nothing. Well okay that's not entirely true, we could all go off and make documentaries, even though most of them need some writing, or heaven forbid, reality TV. (Shoot us now.)

But TV drama, comedy, feature films. Forget about it. All the other people, staff, technicians that get to work on the script blueprint would instead make it another hundred, million, billion, trillion unemployed in this country. So I'd like to echo Danny Stack today, talking about the broadcasting of the Baftas.

It was a good idea from the BBC to divide it into two parts, with BBC2 hosting the craft or lower profile awards, and BBC1 stepping into gear for the big prizes. However, Best Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay were on BBC2, while Best Visual Effects got the BBC1 treatment. Come on Bafta/the film industry! Stop paying lip service to how important the script/writer is, and actually give them the attention they deserve.

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